Mr. Gareth Frank Bale
Tottenham Hotspur FC
Bill Nicholson Way
748 High Road
Let me start this off by saying that I owe you an apology. After all, when anyone inquires who my favorite player is, your name is the always the first to come out of my mouth.
From the day you signed from Southampton, through the Premier League record 24 games without a win, you’ve been the Spur I’ve most admired. Maybe it’s because you turned into a massive signing for me on FIFA ’07 while you were still a starlet playing for Saints. Or maybe it’s because you were a swashbuckling left-footed left back that balled on the set pieces, much like I once aspired to be. I don’t know exactly why; you’ve just been my favorite player for a long, long time.
But, I’ve admittedly been pretty harsh on you at times this season and last. For a number of reasons. None of them would surprise you. They’re the same complaints which you’ve heard from everyone else at this point.
Despite understanding why you go down so easy — to avoid greater injury, you try to avoid the contact if possible — I’d get myself worked into a tizzy at the frequency with which you did it. Curses would be mumbled (sometimes) under my breath when you deserved a foul you weren’t given, but your perceived reputation for simulation instead earned you a wag of the finger or a yellow. We’ve all got our vices, let’s just not forget that we need to work to improve them.
There’s also your propensity to drifting out of position that drives me a little crazy. I’m by no means insinuating that you’re bad on the right, or insinuating you shouldn’t cut into the middle from the left any longer. It’s great that you’re capable of attacking from various parts of the pitch. Adding other dimensions to your game makes you less predictable, thus increasing your overall effectiveness. But sometimes its important to remember just how friggin’ exceptional you are at flying down and attacking from that left wing. I’m aware it’s not always your decision on where you get to play, but I also don’t think AVB is telling you to head to the right all the time either, right?
And lastly, there are those persistent rumors of a move to a bigger club. Again, I know this isn’t all your fault, too. Playing the way you have over the last few seasons, you were bound to catch the eye of many clubs trying to achieve big things… and journalists trying to achieve big sales. But you haven’t hurt their cause either. To us fans, the thought of you wanting to leave smells of inflated ego and a lack of loyalty. Then again, I doubt I’d be able to ward of the flirtations of a Real Madrid or Barcelona at 23 either.
But after watching you against Aston Villa on Boxing Day, dropping a hat trick and generally dismantling the Birmingham outfit — almost singlehandedly — it finally snapped me out of this temporary funk of disappointment I’ve had with you recently.
Reflecting back over the season so far, you’ve actually easily been our most consistent player. Perhaps this is at least slightly attributable to the way Villas-Boas is deploying you, but you can see how you have matured, too. Smarter on the dribble, picking your times better, your service from the wing even better. Even your set pieces have been far more effective, if a little too Cristiano-esque. I used to gripe that you never used your right boot, but you’ve scored twice with it this season. I was even impressed by your move to have the ears pinned back, a move that undoubtedly reduces drag and undercuts your opponents’ jibes.
But seriously Gareth, you’ve been a revelation for Spurs this season. Our hope. Our spark. Our star. And while I’m hardly the first to say it about you, it’s worth saying the adjective again: unplayable. Pundits, journalists and bloggers alike all agree.
And though I sometimes get caught up in the emotion of the game, yelling/tweeting at you in frustration, don’t take it personally. I’m sure you don’t, but let a guy pretend. It’s just I have high expectations and a metric-shit-ton of belief in you. You play the game the way I always wanted to play, but wasn’t capable of. And though I’d like to think you will stick with Tottenham for the rest of your career, I can’t fault your for the ambition. It’s the same drive that let’s you do what you’ve done this campaign. Just be smart about where you go, and move for reasons aside from the fattest contract, and you’ll still be my favorite player.
It’s a privilege to get to watch you play week in and week out. Thanks for reminding me of that.
Looking forward to the rest of the season… and hopefully beyond,
Wrong Side of the Pond